Nkechi Obiagor writes that Imo State Governor is committed to addressing growth and development issues

The Imo State Government has started the implementation of the 2022 budget of N381.4 billion. It is labeled Wealth Consolidation and Recovery Budget (The People’s Budget). Governor Senator Hope Uzodimma says the budget is unique for many reasons. According to him, this is a deliberately targeted development budget.

Here’s how: Of the Federation’s 36 states, Imo is in the club of 26 states whose budgets are skewed towards capital projects rather than recurrent spending. The other 10 states planned to spend more on recurrent than capital. This is contrary to the budgetary recommendations and prescriptions for developing countries of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other development institutions.

Imo’s attracted more positive reviews as the ratio of capital expenditure to recurrent expenditure to budget size is quite high compared to others. Budget analysts and development economists have continued to praise the governor for his focus on capital projects at a time when most parts of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), are stuck in the mud of the infrastructure deficit. They urge the governor to ensure the execution of the budget.

At a stakeholder meeting/lunch held on Tuesday, January 4, 2022 in Owerri, the Governor explained the reason for the budget, outlining many infrastructure projects underway and hinting at many more to come. The strong bent on capital projects is interpreted to signify a determination by the government to reshape the state once famous for its progressiveness and for being the torchbearer of development in the South East during the era of the legendary Dee Sam Mbakwe. of blessed memory.

The Governor explained it this way: “Budget 2022 has the overall objective of ensuring that our efforts to implement our agenda of shared prosperity through wealth creation and recovery take full effect this year. This budget of 381.4 billion naira is made up of recurrent expenditure of 96.7 billion naira and capital expenditure of 284.7 billion naira. Essentially, the capital budget provision is over 74%. This is the first time in recent history that the budgetary focus is clearly on capital projects.

He continued, “The huge capital outlay underscores my administration’s determination to build on critical infrastructure, especially roads that would transform the economic landscape of our beloved state in 2022. The budget also presents a clear signal that we will pay more attention to the welfare of the citizens of the state in the main areas of the value chain of health, education, agriculture, industry, empowerment of youth and job creation. I predict that by the end of this year, Imo State will have experienced a tremendous infrastructural transformation that will put it on an irreversible path to economic growth, which will make us all very proud.

Uzodimma told the audience of wealthy sons and daughters of the state from various professions and political divisions that his government is preparing a 10-year economic development plan which will further define the economic roadmap of the state.

Political observers and socioeconomic analysts familiar with Imo insist that the state deserves the kind of capital-spending heavy budget implemented by the governor. They argue that for much of the past decade, the state has been subjected to unprecedented abuse defined by reckless looting of state coffers, neglect of infrastructure, a broken school system, the brazen theft of public property and funds and unenforceable health care. Imo, once the toast of everyone in the Southeast, has been reduced to a family estate, existing just to sate one family’s ego and enrich a few political mandarins and “privileged” family cronies.

During this period of annexation of an entire state by a single family, Imo became the emblematic child of the stupid and corrupt enrichment of a few officials; state wealth was amassed and converted into private property. Institutions and corporations that used to be state-owned “miraculously” and mysteriously changed hands and ended up in private equity. The people’s republic has become the sudden wealth of a family. Also during this period, public infrastructure was left to decay and decay for all to know, including tricycle drivers, craftsmen, commercial motorists, shopkeepers, all of whom had to endure the weight of eight years of failing leadership.

Uzodimma says it was the dire need to build the state’s infrastructure, overturn the declining health system and restore the state’s lost glory in education that necessitated the uniqueness of his budget . Already he has begun the implantation and the state assumes the picturesque ambience of a huge workshop.

The World Bank and global development scholars have consistently prescribed increased public spending, particularly in areas related to human capital development, as a means of creating safety nets against runaway inflation and other headwinds that hinder economic growth in developing countries. They argue that increasing spending on health, agriculture, infrastructure, and education over time for any developing community (state, province, or country) often results in improved quality of life, an improvement in life expectancy and a general recovery of the economy.

Uzodimma does just that; construction of infrastructure ranging from roads to education to health care, among others. President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had physically traveled to Imo to commission several projects and on both occasions spared no words in praising Governor Uzodimma’s emphasis on development.

During his historic visit to Imo in September 2021, President Buhari, clearly pleased with the quantum of projects the Governor had executed in less than two years, raved: “I think I have to go back to the old adage that see it is to believe. I’ve seen enough to justify his integrity by making sure he works really hard to make sure you get the necessary structure. I’m very impressed with what he’s done because I had the same problem at the center to make sure the infrastructure is what will allow people to take care of their own business.

President Buhari is not known for being flippant. He is taciturn and chooses his word each time he speaks. Praising Uzodimma for his commitment to building infrastructure in the same way the President does in different parts of the country is therefore an endorsement of Uzodimma’s development policy. The construction of more than 90 roads, some completed while others are underway, is proof of a governor who believes that although politics is partisan, it must address the key issue of development.

Uzodimma assured President Buhari last year and reassured the people of IMO this year of his commitment to developing the state and transforming it into a socio-economically viable entity where inclusive development is the order of the day. day. He must stay true to his promise. And just as Vice President Osinbajo pointed out during his visit last year, the governor started well, he should strive to finish well to justify the philosophy of reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery (3R) who defines his government.

Mrs. Obiagor wrote from Owerri